Declaring the government’s commitment to a strong Lokpal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said Anna Hazare’s demand for the right to reject provision in electoral law needs political consensus.
Even as Mr. Hazare came out against the Congress in the Hissar Lok Sabha by-election, the social activist and the Prime Minister exchanged letters on Lokpal and measures to fight corruption and other issues like electoral and judicial reforms in the last 20 days.
“As you are aware, we are committed to enacting a strong Lokpal law and we hope that we will succeed in this in the near future. However, our government is working on a broad agenda to fight corruption and bring in administrative reforms,” Dr. Singh said in a letter to Mr. Hazare written on Monday.
He was replying to Mr. Hazare’s letter of September 21 in which he had flagged several issues including Lokpal, electoral reforms and strengthening of grass roots institutions.
“In this several legal, administrative and technical aspects will be included. Establishment of the Lokpal is part of this broad agenda,” Dr. Singh said.
Referring to Mr. Hazare’s demand for including the provision of right to reject candidates through the option of "none of the above" in the voting system, saying in a democratic society a political consensus was necessary on such issues.
“Our government is actively considering various proposals related to electoral reforms. Among the proposals being considered is the right to reject, which you have mentioned.
“In a democratic society, a political consensus is necessary on some issues. We want to discuss several proposals on electoral reforms with all political parties and act on proposals on which there is broad agreement,” Dr. Singh said.
Mr. Hazare had demanded in another letter dated September 23, that the Prime Minister should write to Chief Ministers of all Congress-ruled States to pass a Bill for establishment of a Lokayukta.
Mr. Hazare maintains that the government had promised him during his fast at Ramlila Maidan that Lokayuktas would be set up in States.
“You had assured that order will be issued to Congress-ruled States for setting up Lokayuktas. According to the assurance, written orders should be sent to Chief Ministers of all Congress-ruled States,” Mr. Hazare had said.
In his reply dated October 7, Dr. Singh drew Mr. Hazare’s attention to the in-principal agreement in Parliament on August 27 on establishment of Lokayukta in States.
“This consensus in Parliament has also been sent to the Standing Committee so that it can consider them during their deliberations. I hope you will agree with me that before going ahead we should first let Parliament complete the process of enacting a Lokpal law,” Dr. Singh said.